Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Customer Service Odds & (Year) Ends

As the old year ends, now's the time to ponder what the airlines, rental car companies, and hotel chains did for you and me to make our lives more tolerable in 2006. So here's my list below. Feel free to email me at with your observations.


Well, er, not too much, I'm afraid, from a network perspective. Locally, the RDU Admirals Club staff does assiduously reach out to me and other super-elite flyers to warn of flight disruptions and delays, and proactively protects us when things go wrong. Great job, RDU Admirals Club!

In fairness, I have to applaud the folks at AAdvantage, at least for us Exec Platinums. They can't always find seats or upgrades, but they sure give it the old college try every time. And that effort was much appreciated, even when it did not pan out.


Wow, CO is really great from a customer service point of view! Some top-of-mind examples:

1. TripAlert check-in emails are an example of innovative customer service. Now I don't even have to go to the CO website to check-in. Instead, they send me a nice email reminder with a link directly to the check-in page! What a great idea! Simple, too. So why hasn't it been emulated by the other dunderheads?

2. Continental still has free snacks, pillows & blankets, even on RJs. 'Nuff said.

3. Continental Presidents Clubs have complimentary alcohol and, best of all, free wireless internet access. Those things alone are worth the annual fee.


1. Thank goodness for Hertz's NeverLost!

2. Thank goodness for Hertz's President Circle and for Avis's Presidents Club.

What about the other rent-a-car companies? What others?


Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the HHonors program is the best in the industry. First, as an HHonors Diamond Level, I am always treated to an upgraded room (when available). Second, as a Diamond Level HHonors member, I am actually able to use my points almost every time even for hard-to-get properties (examples: Paris, London, Walt Disney World, Manhattan). Kudos to HHonors! I'll be staying at Hilton properties almost exclusively in 2007 as a result.


All I can say is a personal thanks to Tina Umland at Delta! You are a treasure! Thank you for all your help in tight scrapes in 2006, 2005, 2004, and so on.

Delta's flight attendants (mainline, not Comair or ASA or SkyWest) are the best in the business, too. Simply wonderful people. Keeps me coming back.


Love your MSP service and people! Wonder why the rest of the system cannot match their fine attitudes.

The Northwest World Clubs are also great sanctuaries.


It's true that I had a few good flights on your systems in 2006, and I just hope they were indicative of a trend. However, I also had several VERY HORRIBLE experiences which leads me to think I got lucky a time or two.

Merge! Merge! With each other, I mean! Then quietly sink beneath the waves and leave us in peace.


Lastly, is it my imagination, or have the airline clubs really started placing waste cans by the doors of the rest rooms (well, men's rooms, anyway)? Why? Because people like me have become a bit paranoid about touching door handles on public toilets with our bare palms (remember Howard Hughes?). That's because of all the filthy guys I see leaving those toilets without washing their hands.

So I use a paper towel to pull the door open, and having a waste can right by the door is a convenient way to discard the used paper towel as the door closes behind me. Apparently, a lot of people agree with me, because those waste cans by the door are always full.


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